The next ABO-HNS exam, in October 2021, will be virtual, but according to Dr. Nussenbaum, no decisions beyond that have been made. “The board will think about what to do in 2022,” he said. “We’re planning to have one more virtual administration to incorporate the things we learned from the February 2021 exam, continue to improve the process and the experience for the examiners and candidates, and then we’ll make a decision shortly afterward based on operational considerations, feedback, and public health safety.”
Explore This IssueAugust 2021
Having taken the virtual exam, Dr. Holcomb concluded that the advantages of the format outweigh the disadvantages. “Given the significant benefits of convenience and cost, and as long as the threat of COVID-19 resurgence or future pandemics remains, this format remains the safest for candidates and examiners.”
Anticipating the October exam, Dr. Fox has been keeping her ear to the ground. “The folks I have spoken to who took the exam in February didn’t report any technological issues, and the [ABO-HNS] does provide a time to check technology with their system prior to the time of examination,” she said. “I think that if the virtual format is effective, then the board should consider instituting it permanently.”
So far, examiner feedback on the virtual oral exam format has been positive. Moreover, scoring results from February’s test revealed a failure rate consistent with past in-person exams. For this ultimate success, Dr. Nussenbaum credits the board’s “exceptional” group of volunteers. “Without their incredible dedication and commitment to learning this new electronic virtual platform and process, this couldn’t be done,” he concluded. “The incredible, collective team effort from ABO-HNS staff and the examiners was truly inspirational to me.”
Linda Kossoff is a freelance medical writer based in Woodland Hills, Calif.